Names have meanings, and it is odd how often a person lives up to their name in some way, or their character somehow reflects their name.
When it comes to Jesus, names definitely matter! Jesus is derived from the Jewish Yeshua, meaning God saves. He is also called Christ, meaning anointed, or commissioned for a particular task. And then there is Immanuel, which features in this Sunday’s readings – it means God with us.
All of these names point to something about who Jesus is, and what God called him to do and to be. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, one of the three Persons or aspects of God. And this Person is the one who is with us, who lived as one of us, who knows what being human really means. He is the one who heals us, brings us wholeness – which is what salvation is really about. Restoring wholeness in our souls, our bodies, and in our relationship with God.
And he is definitely God-with-us. Being born as a human, God is one with us. And it is because of Jesus that the Holy Spirit is able to dwell within our hearts all the time.
Through Jesus, God comes to us. We don’t have to go to Him. We don’t have to strive any longer to reach up to heaven. In Jesus, heaven is brought to earth. How often does Jesus say, in his years of ministry, “behold the Kingdom of Heaven is upon you!”
Jesus brings about the fulfilment of the promise that God will be with us always, that we are adopted as his children, and that we will never be abandoned. He is the one who washes us clean of our sins, who removes evil from us, and who makes it possible for us to stand before God and know we are loved and accepted.
“Behold I stand at the door and knock!”
Jesus is Immanuel. Let’s check and make sure we’ve invited him in, and made room for him in the home of our hearts this Christmas, and that we don’t usher him out the door again when the tinsel and decorations are put away. For Jesus wishes to stay with us, if we will let him. To heal the weary, strengthen the fainthearted, heal the sick, give recovery to the captives. To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. All this and more. To use a cliché, it’s on the tin! It’s all in the name – literally.